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LATINA  PROFILE:  Aleiah Jones, UT’s new Latino initiatives program coordinator


By Kevin Milliken, La Prensa Correspondent


TOLEDO, April 1, 2018: Aleiah Jones, 30, was named in January as the university’s new Latino initiatives program coordinator within the university’s Office of Multicultural Student Success. Ms. Jones serves as the advisor to UT’s Latino Student Union and is responsible for Latino-oriented programming. Her focus, she stated, will be on “recruitment, retention, and graduation” of Latino students, who now make up about five percent of the overall UT student population.

“I hope to be here for as long as possible. I am excited for the direction the division of student affairs is going, for the support that we have on campus from the administration, specifically for the Office of Latino Initiatives,” she said. “I’ve always said that I hope my career would be able to end at UT. I am really committed to the institution and for our students.”


Formerly a UT success coach, Ms. Jones has attended many of those ongoing meetings and is intimately familiar with the issues Latino students are facing and the concerns of the greater Latino community on campus. To some degree, Ms. Jones feels like she is able to pay it forward for all the mentoring she received as a young Latina student on campus.


“I had a great experience as a student here,” she recalled, after transferring to UT from Owens Community College. “I was not as involved in Latino programming and other things as an undergraduate, simply because I didn’t really know about it. I believe I’m able to bring it full circle by being a student and now working here and to help students have the best experience that they can have while they’re here.”


One of the initiatives she’s been tasked with is to help improve the support services on-campus “for graduate students of color.” So she’ll be reaching out to Latinos pursuing master’s degrees.


“I had great faculty mentors in my department as a grad student, but I know that’s not true for everyone on campus,” she said. “Just thinking about ways we can keep our students here for grad school and how we can support them. That’s something I look forward to starting in the fall.”


One of her other duties is to interface with UT’s Latino Faculty and Staff Association, attempting to get them more involved with students through mentoring and participation in on-campus programming. Ms. Jones also organizes the Primos program, which pairs an upper classmen with a Latino freshman as a mentor. She also will be heavily involved in planning Hispanic Heritage Month activities at the university.


The Office of Multicultural Student Success offers monthly programming for three groups which are its main focus: Latino students, African-American students, and the LGBTQ community. One recent event was a documentary on the life of Dolores Huerta, which Ms. Jones stated drew a lot of at-large Latino community members to campus. Another event in April features a talk on financial literacy by Sue Cuevas, who manages the Nueva Esperanza Community Credit Union.


Ms. Jones estimated 200 people attended LSU’s annual student-led, student-planned scholarship dance on Friday evening, March 16. Three bands and a DJ provided musical entertainment. LSU awarded six student scholarships at the 45th annual dance, including two to incoming freshmen.


“I was pretty happy with the turnout. Of course, we appreciate that the community always comes out to support this event,” she said.


Her biggest upcoming event is the annual two-day Latino Youth Summit, an effort which draws an estimated 500 Latino middle school and high school students to campus each May to learn about UT’s offerings and other post-secondary educational options. The Latino Youth Summit will be held this year on Tuesday, May 15 for middle school students and the following day for high school students. The registration deadline is April 25. Ms. Jones is still seeking volunteers from the adult Latino community to help in the effort that day to serve as guides and mentors.


“This year we’re excited to be partnering with some of our local (skilled) trades, so students can learn not only about higher education options, but other things,” said Ms. Jones.


She grew up in North Toledo with whom she calls her best friend, her twin brother. The pair would have attended Woodward High School, but chose to be home-schooled by their parents so they could “do their own thing,” which turned out to be “a really unique experience,” according to Ms. Jones. She also stated it prepared her to be independent; she needed to succeed in college.


Ms. Jones and her twin brother are the first in their family to graduate from college. She has earned a master’s (2013) and a bachelor’s (2011) degree in Sociology, both at the University of Toledo. She served as a graduate assistant and also is an adjunct instructor at the university.


Ms. Jones also worked at Adelante, Inc. for a year as programming director. She serves as president of the UT Latino Alumni Affiliate and as treasurer of Latino Alliance of Northwest Ohio, Inc.


“I think it had a huge effect, for not only my position being brought back, but also the appointment of Dr. Michele Soliz for a vice president position,” she said. “I think both of those key staff positions really were a result of those meetings of the alliance meeting with the (UT) administration.”


The two sides continue to meet monthly to plan events and programming. One upcoming event is an information night for families on April 19, 2018, 6-8:00PM, at the East Toledo Family Center, 1020 Varland Avenue, called ¡SOMOS UT!, which is also sponsored by UT’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.


“The voice of Latinos on campus and in the community I absolutely know is being heard by the administration and is something that we are continuing to do,” said Ms. Jones. “We are working on recruitment events and continue to meet. It’s a continued conversation with the community and with the administration. I absolutely know those conversations were a great influence on these positions. I would not say where we are is perfect by any means with the recruitment, retention, and graduation rates of our Latino students. We still have a lot of work to do and we know the support of the community is absolutely necessary in that.”

On the Internet:  http://www.utoledo.edu/studentaffairs/omss/

Copyright © 1989 to 2018 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04/10/18 20:42:57 -0700.




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